When I got into Birmingham for my chat with Ryan I didn’t know what to expect. Spending time with a member of your favorite bands is as exciting as it is when you’re a kid and you taste an ice cream for the first time. Birmingham was very cold that day but I was hesitant to just get backstage, sit down and talk.
“I didn’t prepare any question, I just want to have a conversation with you” I tell him ahead of our talk. He laughs.
Ryan Scott Graham is the bassist and backing vocalist for State Champs and right now they’re in Birmingham on their UK tour supported by Northbound and As It Is. They’ve got one show left in London then Ryan is off to Florida to work on his second album for his solo project “Speak Low If You Speak Love”, an acoustic project he’s very passionate about.
Why did he start making music? What made him grab that bass at such young age?
“Growing up I was a baseball player, and that’s what I thought I would do and then as I went to school – this is funny because I remember very vividly- one of my friends had a t-shirt with a local band on it, they were called The Great Basement Escape, the t-shirt had a ship on it. I wanted to buy the t-shirt so my friend said they were playing a show that week and I should’ve gone. At that time, I wasn’t playing or listening to any rock music. I didn’t know what to expect. I was probably 14? I ended up going to this show with him. I was amazed, it was cool although I didn’t really understand anything about it. It was totally strange to me. I was wearing this big jersey and sweatpants. I looked ridiculous … after that, I asked my mom to buy me a guitar. I started learning by myself and here I am.
If you’ve never thought about Ryan playing the World Series, this is definitely your chance. It’s true State Champs came after his acoustic writing but that’s how he started and well-known in the music scene.
But speaking of which, what are the struggles of a musician nowadays to be successful? What does inspire him and why is Ryan so passionate about Japan, books and art?
Watch the full interview here:
Find out more about Speak Low If You Speak Lovehere. State Champs are playing Download 2017, get tickets here.
We sat down with Jonathon from Northbound ahead of their show in Birmingham. The band were supporting State Champs on their UK run alongside As It Is. Together we discussed their new EP “The Flaws in Everything”, the struggles of being a musician and how friendly Europe is.
How did you start doing music? I got a guitar when I was 8 years old and I just messed with it. I tried to write music and I’ve just been writing music ever since. Northbound started off as an acoustic project. I guess we just started with listening to music and everything came along. Cody is from Michigan and he was playing in a band with Ryan (State Champs), we played the same show together by coincidence, we stayed good friends and yeah, that’s how we started everything off.
Northbound is such an interesting name. What’s behind it? It’s kind of cheesy but we live in the south of Florida so every time we travel to play shows or to do anything cool, it always involves getting on a highway and go northbound so that’s how we ended up choosing that name.
The Flaws in Everything, your new EP is coming out soon. Can you tell me more about it? We released a new song “Fade to Black” and it premiered on BBC Radio 1 which is really cool. The reason why we did an EP and not an album is, when we signed with our label, we signed for an album and an EP. So that’s a short explanation to that. I write a lot, so we definitely had more songs. So we picked which ones should go on that EP. This was actually the first Northbound recording where there was everyone involved in the studio, we all contributed. Speaking about the name of the EP, well, we have a track called “Suitor Type” which goes “I wanna find the flaws in everything”, so I took it from that lyric. I was kind of frustrated with my tendency to always look at the negative. It’s kind of always being aware of where you’re at, being stuck in a position you don’t know how to change but you just know you’re unhappy with what your outlook is. I’m not saying I want to find flaws in everything as a bad thing about myself. But that’s just a position where I am.
You guys are almost done with this European tour, how’s it been the outcome so far? It was our first time ever playing shows outside of America. I don’t think it could’ve gone any better and I am really grateful that I could say that. The response was really good. I didn’t actually know what to expect. There’s such a different vibe here just because we were on the tour flyer, all State Champs fans went out of their way to check us out before the shows so it looked like we already had a fanbase over here. It’s small but it felt like we already had people here who cared about us just because they saw our name on the flyer. In America, support acts are not that appreciated. People are just bored there until the headliner plays or sometimes they don’t even show up until the headliner is on stage.
We saw people singing along to your songs … Yeah! Every single show on this entire tour -it’s now been a month we’ve been out- kids have been singing along. Whether it’s two kids or 15. There hasn’t been a show with nobody singing and that’s mind blowing because I’d go out play 2 hours away from home and no one would know any word and here it’s different.
So, does it mean you guys are coming back anytime soon? We don’t have anything planned but we would love to be back. A lot of people that we meet are always asking “oh when are you coming back?” and we don’t know what to say.
What is the thing you like the most about Europe and the one you like the least? The thing I like the most is … people are friendly here, like they really are. I was at McDonalds last night at 2 in the morning and people would just come up to me asking if I was okay. I was just there by myself waiting for my food (laughs). People come to the shows and they’re extremely passionate. I like how welcome everybody makes you feel. My least favorite thing … I don’t know, there’s small things here that are different. I don’t mind the weather although I wish I could sometimes see the sun, I don’t see the sun and it makes me sad. Oh wait, I like soda a lot and there’s no free refills on soda anywhere!
What can we expect next? So our EP is coming out on April 21st and just more touring all throughout the year. We have something else lined up for once we get back home. We’re going out in the States for three weeks with Daisyhead.
You guys are a new upcoming band. What are the struggles you’re facing as a musician nowadays? The struggles we face, the ones we notice. People, with the age of internet and how instantaneous everything is I feel like everybody wants this instant gratification … like immediately and it’s tough because people are so quick on jump on board and so quick to jump off. If you put out one record that flops or something like that, there’s a lot of pressure to perform well and to put out your best music, which at the same time, it’s good. Pressure keeps you on your toes. Internet is a blessing and a curse. If someone is talking badly about you and they don’t like you, that’s going to spread like wild fire but then again, if you do something great like a banging record it also spreads like wild fire. There’s so many good bands out there, there’s so much competition. And sometimes these bands for some reasons they never cut through and there’s this intense fear of being one of those bands. And then there’s a fear even if you hit a point of relevancy to then fall off, you could fall off as quickly as you go up.
Pre-order The Flaws in Everythinghere.
Follow Northbound on Twitter.